Full of Eastern promise
1 tsp za’atar
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper
Large bunch (80g-100g) flat leaf parsley
4 spring onions, sliced
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 green pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Juice of 1- 2 lemons
Splash white wine vinegar
Cook the barley in boiling water for about 30-35 minutes, until al dente. Drain, rinse it and then let it drain really well and set aside. Crumble up the feta or dice it and mix with the olive oil, za’atar, coriander seeds, garlic, cumin and some black pepper.
Chop up the parsley. In a large bowl, mix together with the barley, spring onions, pine nuts, green pepper, the allspice and lemon juice. Add vinegar to taste and some salt. Then add most of the olive oil that the feta has been marinating in and mix well.
Taste, serve and top with the feta or feel free to mix it through the salad.
LEEK FLATBREADS WITH LEMON AND THYME
This made about eight or so flatbreads and happily served 4-6
1-2 leeks, very finely sliced
Good knob butter
3-4 tbsp olive oil
250g plain flour
100ml warm water
Salt and pepper
Few thyme leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
Extra olive oil
To make the flatbreads, sauté the leeks in the butter and a bit of olive oil until very soft. You may want to do this with a lid on. Season them very well.
Put the flour in a bowl and add the water and the leeks and a bit more olive oil. Work this with a wooden spoon at first and when it comes together; use your hands to knead it for a few minutes. You may need to use some extra flour for patting them out flat onto a surface to prevent them sticking.
The first time I made this I added extra water thinking it was far too dry. But give it a minute or so as the leeks tend to carry quite a lot of moisture and it should be the right amount. Divide the dough into at least eight pieces, pat them out and then in a very hot, non-stick dry frying pan, fry them until they are starting to char and brown a bit. I sometimes add a bit of olive oil to the pan to help them along, but you want them to cook and lightly char.
You can keep them warm in an oven while you finish cooking the rest, or else just sprinkle with salt and serve straight away.
For the topping, simply mix all the ingredients together, season and spoon a little on top and serve.
Fish slices and spatulas are dead handy, but you need one suitable for non-stick pans and most plastic ones melt as soon as they touch the heat. Hence the brilliance of those from French brand Matfer, which don’t melt. Available in Sweeney O’Rourke’s on Pearse Street, Dublin 2. See sweeneyorourke.com